Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 485773 times)

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3080 on: June 05, 2022, 06:19:22 AM »
At the same time (March 1955) as those La Sonnambulas, he was also doing Bohème at La Scala. In 1978, he conducted the Wiener Staatsoper forces in Fidelio at La Scala.

In Vienna, in addition to Fidelio, he conducted Falstaff, Rosenkavalier, and his own A Quiet Place. At the Met, he did Falstaff, Cavalleria Rusticana, and Carmen.

I'd forgotten about the Vienna Fidelio and the Carmen with Horne.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline JBS

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3081 on: June 05, 2022, 11:40:15 AM »
Spending the afternoon with


At the moment, the opening scene of Act II is playing.

Jacobs makes three important innovations

1. The original libretto has an opening scene with the Hermit and Agathe which Weber cut (on the advice, it seems, of his wife). There are is an aria for the Hermit and a duetto which he therefore did not set.  Jacobs set these with music borrowed from other parts of the opera..
2. In the official version, the character Kuno has a spoken monologue explaining the origin of the shooting contest. In the original  libretto the explanation is given as a sung ballad. Weber did not set it. Jacobs therefore adapted a song by Schubert (from Teufels Lustschloss) to provide the music.
3. Beyond the Wolf's Glen scene , there are various points in the action at which Samiel is visible to the audience (and to the villian Kaspar) but does not speak. Jacobs wrote lines for him to speak at those points so his presence would be noticed in an audio-only production like this. Much of what Samiel says in the recording was in fact improvised by the actor who performed the role, Max Urlacher.

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3082 on: June 05, 2022, 06:24:47 PM »
I remember being knocked out the first time I heard this version - what a cast!  Also, the CBS (as was) engineering is remarkably good (better) than I often expect from this source.  Did they "borrow" Decca's Vienna set-up for this?  Your point about Bernstein's few opera recordings is well-made.  Given that he was such a 'theatrical' composer and conductor I wonder why he did not do more?  Perhaps his ego didn't like being hidden in a pit of pesky singers being more in the spotlight......!!

Yeah, it is strange he didn't record more as, like you said, he has such an affinity for the theatre. I guess we should be grateful for what we have, but could you imagine him in Berg's Wozzeck or Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth, I mean talk about wishful thinking.
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3083 on: June 06, 2022, 12:32:04 AM »


This live recording (in somewhat dim, distant sound) brings back memories of a production that was one of the highights of my early opera going career, though I saw the revival, by which time they had reverted to the original German and Janet Baker and Elizabeth Harwood had been replaced by Anne Howells and Teresa Cahill and Michael Langdon had taken over the role of Ochs. Scottish Opera were riding the crest of a wave at the time and vied wth London companies for Britain's best opera company.

The star of this performance was undoubtedly Janet Baker, who never sang the role of Octavian again. She is everything an Octavian should be; ardent, impulsive, youthfully gauche and with a fine and perhaps unexpected gift for comedy in the final act. She is in superb voice, filling her music with soaring, free tone. So too is Elizabeth Harwood as Sophie. Even at this early stage in her career, Dernesch, who gamely learned the role in English, has one or two moments of strain in the upper register (she muffs the high G at silberne Rose in the first act) but she is a warmly feminine and dignified Marschallin. I can attest to the fact that her acting and personal beauty made any such moments inconsequential. In fact, she walked away with the honours when I saw her in the role and she is still the most perfect Marschallin I have ever seen on stage.



Noel Mangin is perhaps a little light of voice for Ochs (Michael Langdon was better), but Alexander Gibson conducts a wonderful (and absolutely note complete) version of the score.

Disc 4 in this set is given over to the Prologue from a 1977 production of Ariadne auf Naxos with Janet Baker as the Composer, yet another role she never visited again. What a shame she dropped both roles from her repertoire, as she is ideal in both. Helga Dernesch is again in the cast, this time as the Prima Donna/Ariadne, though we hear little of her in the prologue. The performance is again in English and one should give a special word of praise to Iain Cuthbertson who is superb in the speaking role of the Majo-Domo. I'd be interested to hear Dernesch in the opera, but it is good to have this memento of Baker's wonderful Composer. The sound here is better than on the Rosenkavalier.

The set is rounded out with a live performance of Frauenliebe und Leben, though the notes don't tell us where this is from. The cycle (accomapanied by Martin Isepp) was one of Baker's first recordings for the Saga label in the mid 1960s and then she re-recorded it with Barenboim in 1977, just a couple of years before this one with Graham Johnson. Both her studio recordings are among the best available, but this one benefits from the added frisson of being performed before an audience.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3084 on: June 07, 2022, 01:10:48 AM »


There is another Welitsch/Reiner performance from 1952 in better sound, with Hotter as Jokanaan, but Welitsch is in better voice here - and this really is a thrilling performance. Welitsch is, and no doubt always will be, my yardstick for the role. Her bright silvery top register has no problem cutting through the orchestration and her interpretation leaves little to be desired. She was, after all, coached in the role by Strauss himself. Reiner's conducting is superb, bringing out all the erotic decadence in the score.

This issue also includes music from a 1951 Don Giovanni, also conducted by Reiner and with Eugene Conley as Ottavio, and a 1950 Aida, this time under Emil Cooper with Ramon Vinay as Radames and Margaret Harshaw as Amneris. Welitsch is an exciting Anna but it is a bit casual with note values and tends to rush the beat. Her Aida was also well known, but the voice is a little too relentlessly bright for my taste here. Nonetheless these excerpts are very interesting to hear.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3085 on: June 08, 2022, 12:26:14 AM »


Karajan's 1978 recording of Salome is surely one of the most stunningly beautiful ever committed to disc. Whether you therefore miss some of the lurid decadence of the piece is a moot point and different people will have different reactions. Of the other studio versions I've heard (Solti, Leinsdorf and Sinopoli) this one is by far my favourite. Behrens was the perfect choice at this time, the voice having a silvery sheen on top and her characterisation being very much school of Welitsch. Behrens is the epitome of the spoiled, single-minded teenager and this is without doubt one of the best things she ever did on disc.

It is brilliantly cast (Van Dam as Jokanaan, Baltsa as Herodias and Böhm an excellent Herod) with even some star names amongst the Jews and Nazarenes. Only the rather fruity Page disappoints.
 
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Biffo

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3086 on: June 08, 2022, 02:35:36 AM »


Karajan's 1978 recording of Salome is surely one of the most stunningly beautiful ever committed to disc. Whether you therefore miss some of the lurid decadence of the piece is a moot point and different people will have different reactions. Of the other studio versions I've heard (Solti, Leinsdorf and Sinopoli) this one is by far my favourite. Behrens was the perfect choice at this time, the voice having a silvery sheen on top and her characterisation being very much school of Welitsch. Behrens is the epitome of the spoiled, single-minded teenager and this is without doubt one of the best things she ever did on disc.

It is brilliantly cast (Van Dam as Jokanaan, Baltsa as Herodias and Böhm an excellent Herod) with even some star names amongst the Jews and Nazarenes. Only the rather fruity Page disappoints.

+1 - my favourite Karajan recording

Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3087 on: June 09, 2022, 04:59:56 AM »
Some Napoleonic, proto-grand opéra today. Gaspare Spontini's Fernand Cortez ou la conquète du Mexique, recorded live at the 2019 Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, under the baton of Jean-Louis Tingaud.



Some (many?) people say that Spontini is a bore, and that his best-known work, La Vestale, is just Norma's unappealing older sister. But, I really like La Vestale and Olympie, and find Spontini's style empire really attractive, think he has a sober but effective dramatic pacing, has a nice melodic gift, and is quite a master in the treatment of the orchestra.

Fernand Cortez is given here more complete that in the previous recording on Accord conducted by Jean-Paul Penin, and in general terms this newer recording is better (except for the French diction of some of the singers, which is quite poor).

It would be great if some enterprising opera company gave this Fernand Cortez and Wolfgang Rihm's Die Eroberung von Mexico on alternate evenings.  ;D
« Last Edit: June 09, 2022, 05:45:39 AM by ritter »
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Offline Florestan

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3088 on: June 09, 2022, 05:59:50 AM »
Some Napoleonic, proto-grand opéra today. Gaspare Spontini's Fernand Cortez ou la conquète du Mexique, recorded live at the 2019 Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, under the baton of Jean-Louis Tingaud.



Some (many?) people say that Spontini is a bore, and that his best-known work, La Vestale, is just Norma's unappealing older sister. But, I really like La Vestale and Olympie, and find Spontini's style empire really attractive, think he has a sober but effective dramatic pacing, has a nice melodic gift, and is quite a master in the treatment of the orchestra.

Fernand Cortez is given here more complete that in the previous recording on Accord conducted by Jean-Paul Penin, and in general terms this newer recording is better (except for the French diction of some of the singers, which is quite poor).

Speaking of which:



I'm horrified by Mesple's diction while singing. I understand everything she says in spoken dialogues or recitatives but when she starts singing it's an unmitigated disaster, I understand nothing at all. Peter-Christoph Runge, not even a Frenchman, has a much, much better diction than her. Heck, even when listening to Joan Sutherland singing in French I can understand more.  ;D

« Last Edit: June 09, 2022, 06:01:38 AM by Florestan »
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Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3089 on: June 09, 2022, 06:15:04 AM »
Yeah, but Mme. Mesplé was French, born and bred, which makes it all the more regrettable. The singers in my recording from Florence have names like Luca, Davide, Leonard and Delia, so you could forgive them for not being intelligible.

Bonjour à vous, cher Monsieur!
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Offline Florestan

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3090 on: June 09, 2022, 06:21:03 AM »
Yeah, but Mme. Mesplé was French, born and bred, which makes it all the more regrettable.

Precisely. I am truly perplexed that a French-born singer can have such a bad French diction.

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3091 on: June 09, 2022, 01:54:58 PM »
Yeah, but Mme. Mesplé was French, born and bred, which makes it all the more regrettable. The singers in my recording from Florence have names like Luca, Davide, Leonard and Delia, so you could forgive them for not being intelligible.

Bonjour à vous, cher Monsieur!

I have quite a few recordings with Mady Mesplé (Offenbach operettas, Lakmé, Guillaume Tell, Werther etc) and I can't say I've ever found her diction to be bad. Quite the reverse in fact.

\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Florestan

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3092 on: June 10, 2022, 07:17:42 AM »
I have quite a few recordings with Mady Mesplé (Offenbach operettas, Lakmé, Guillaume Tell, Werther etc) and I can't say I've ever found her diction to be bad. Quite the reverse in fact.

Well, Auber's Manon Lescaut was my very first encounter with Mady Mesple and I was trully appallled by her diction (only when singing; the spoken dialogues or the recitatives are okay). I don't think it's a recording problem, all other singers, one of them not even a Frenchman, I can understand alright and the orchestral parts are crystal clear. I'm greatly intrigued and will certainly explore more of her recordings.

FWIW, I speak French fluently.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2022, 07:24:33 AM by Florestan »
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Offline Mapman

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3093 on: June 11, 2022, 07:09:13 PM »
I've been watching the Moniuszko Vocal Competition. There are lots of impressive young singers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFj_L2XtlIA

Offline Todd

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3094 on: June 12, 2022, 12:26:06 PM »



Starting in on Zweden's Ring.  Without question, this is the finest recording of Das Rheingold that the Hong Kong Philharmonic has made.  It's just fine overall, and light and small-scaled, sort of like Karajan, but lacking the orchestral wizardry and studio trickery.  I look forward to the remaining installments.

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3095 on: June 13, 2022, 12:25:14 AM »


Szymanowski's senuous and ambiguously erotic opera is given a gorgeous performance here by Rattle and his superb cast and team.


The opera is quite short so we also get the not inconsiderable makeweight of Leif Ove Andsnes in the Symphony no 4 (Sifonia Concertante).
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3096 on: June 13, 2022, 05:17:04 AM »


Szymanowski's senuous and ambiguously erotic opera is given a gorgeous performance here by Rattle and his superb cast and team.


The opera is quite short so we also get the not inconsiderable makeweight of Leif Ove Andsnes in the Symphony no 4 (Sifonia Concertante).

The Rattle performance is pretty good, but this one is even better, IMHO:

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Offline JonSRB77

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3097 on: June 17, 2022, 11:31:48 AM »
Marian Anderson sings 'Ave Maria' at the Lincoln Memorial on April 9, 1939

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtWLZYFfbis

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3098 on: June 25, 2022, 12:57:41 AM »


I first fell in love with Tchaikovsky's wonderful Eugene Onegin when I was still a teenager. My father got us tickets to see the opera in Glyndebourne's Touring production at the Newcastle-upon-Tyne. We none of usknew a note of the music and my father bought, in preparation, the old Oscar Danon recording on Decca Ace of Clubs, which was the only one available at the time. It's not a great performance and the recording did little to excite my interest, but the Glyndebourne performance certainly did.

Some years later I caught Andrei Serban's superb production for Welsh National Opera when it toured to Southampton, where I was rehearsing for a Christmas show at the Nuffield Theatre. That too was a memorable evening in the theatre.

Listening to this mavellous 1955 set again has renewed my love of the opera and my respect for Tchaikovsky's masterpiece, which I truly believe to be one of the greatest operas in the repertory. For a start, it is perfectly cast with the young Vishneskaya in one of her very best recorded performances. In fact there isn't a weak link. Lemshev, at 54, was probably a mite too old for Lensky, but he certainly doesn't sound like an old man. His Lensky is a poet through and through and is all the more effective for not overdoing the histrionics as some do. Petrov sings Gremin's aria with grave beauty and Belov, suitably distant and sardonic in the opening scenes, is convincingly and passionately desperate in the last. Over all very Khaikin presides, his understanding and control of the score absolutely spot on. This is as much his recording as the famous 1953 Tosca is De Sabata's. The sound is very acceptable mono.

There have been quite a few good recordings since this one, most of them in stereo, but I wouldn't prefer any of them.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline KevinP

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3099 on: June 25, 2022, 03:48:47 AM »